By Michael M. Shapiro
The Seventh Congressional District in New Jersey is one of the most hotly-contested races in the state and throughout the country this year. This is due, in part, because Assemblywoman Linda Stender narrowly lost to Congressman Mike Ferguson in 2006, and Ferguson announced he would not seek another term. Stender now faces Republican State Senator Leonard Lance in the upcoming general election, and Michael Hsing.
Who? Michael Hsing, a Republican Bridgewater councilman, is running as an independent, after dropping out of the Republican Primary for the same seat earlier this year, claiming it was rigged.
In a typical congressional district in New Jersey, the run of a Republican turned independent would make little difference. In the Seventh Congressional District, it could wind up making the whole difference. Given Hsing’s Republican orientation, Senator Lance’s campaign can be none too pleased regarding Hsing’s entry into the race.
It was only two years ago, in the 2006 congressional election, that Linda Stender beat all expectations and lost to Congressman Ferguson by only a little more than 3,000 votes, 1.5% of the total votes cast and the closest election in the Seventh District in many years. Couple Stender’s narrow defeat with her hefty $1.2 million war chest for this year’s election, and the threat posed by the Hsing candidacy becomes more clear.
Should Hsing win even 2% of the vote, which is clearly doable, and those votes primarily come from Republicans who would have voted for Lance had Hsing not been in the race, Lance will likely lose. Hsing also has over $100,000 in the bank to spend for the campaign, while Lance has less money on hand than Hsing.
This is not to say that the election is over—far from it! It is nearly 100 days away—plenty of time for the dynamics to change; but as of this point in time, Hsing poses a deadly threat to Lance’s retention of the congressional seat for the Republican Party. If the party is serious about keeping the seat in its column, it should pump a great deal of money into Lance’s coffers and approach Hsing about the possibility of dropping out before the September deadline.
Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org